Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Underwater Tiger

Odin is a rare white Bengal tiger who will dive into the pool at his American zoo to retrieve chunks of meat thrown in by his keeper.

Ten foot long from the tip of his tail to his nose, Odin is, not surprisingly, a star at the zoo, which installed a special glass-walled tank so that zoo-goers can watch this magnificent animal take to the water.


More on Odin here.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

11 Year Old Kills Monster Pig

The pig was more than nine feet long, and weighed more than 1000 pounds, but an 11 year old boy from Alabama managed to take it out with his dad's pistol.

He wasn't out hunting alone. His dad and his mates kept watch, at a distance, with their rifles ready as the kid took on the monster pig.

Killing animals was nothing new for this kid. He wasted his first deer at age FIVE.

And by the way, in case you're thinking of ordering any, the sausages are all gone.

From Breitbart :

"It feels really good," Jamison, of Pickensville, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It's a good accomplishment. I probably won't ever kill anything else that big."

He said he shot the huge animal eight times with a .50- caliber revolver and chased it for three hours through hilly woods before finishing it off with a point-blank shot.

It's nice to know the animal didn't suffer.

Through it all there was the fear that the animal would turn and charge them, as wild boars have a reputation of doing.

"I was a little bit scared, a little bit excited," said Jamison, who just finished the sixth grade on the honor roll at Christian Heritage Academy, a small, private school. Mike Stone said the scale balanced one notch past the 1,050-pound mark, and he thought it meant a weight of 1,051 pounds.

His father said that, just to be extra safe, he and the guides had high-powered rifles aimed and ready to fire in case the beast with 5- inch tusks decided to charge.

With the pig finally dead in a creek bed on the 2,500-acre Lost Creek Plantation, a commercial hunting preserve in Delta, trees had to be cut down and a backhoe brought in to bring Jamison's prize out of the woods.

Mike Stone is having sausage made from the rest of the animal. "We'll probably get 500 to 700 pounds," he said.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Star Trek Fan's Obsession Pays Off Handsomely

A British Star Trek obsessive spent tens of thousands of dollars, and many years, converting his small one bedroom Islington flat into a extremely detailed replica of a Stark Trek ship.

It may be easy to look at the room above, and to muse upon this 54 year old's obsession and think 'My God, what a complete and total loser'.

Except you don't know the end of this story. After trying to sell the flat for a few years, Tony Alleyne has struck gold. He auctioned off the flat and found a buyer who was willing to pay FIVE TIMES the market value for the flat, Star Trek flight deck and all.

More on this from Boing Boing and the BBC.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

WTF Is That?

Giant Turtle? Or Rotting Whale Blubber?

Did the decaying remains of a previously uncatalogued Giant Turtle just turn up?

Cryptomundo has posted a series of photos of a massive carcass that washed up on a Pacific Ocean beach. No official word on what the hell it is, but the theories rage.

Is it a rotting whale carcass, or a giant turtle on its back?

There was a monster-sized turtle species that roamed the oceans about 70 million years ago called the GiantArchelon ischyros. One set of fossilised remains showed the creatured measured 16 feet long.

The theories on what those photos show are flowing here, but most presume it is a whale carcass of some kind.

Damn, and we thought it might be proof that Gamera's body had been found after its final, heroic battle against Godzilla.
NASA To Send Robot To Explore Mysterious, Deadly 'Bottomless Pit'

It's the deepest known land pit in the world, and it's already claimed the life of one explorer who dived in to try and discover the secrets that lie at its bottom.

At 925 feet deep, the El Zacaton sinkhole in Mexico remains one of the mysteries of the world. Scientists know little about how the geothermal pit is fed by water, or what creatures live in its deepest, darkest depths.

They hope they can find out by sending a NASA robot where no man has gone before, or at least lived to tell the tale of what he found down there :
NASA, which funded the robotic explorer, views the mission as a test-run for a potential journey to Europa, a moon of Jupiter thought to contain liquid water beneath miles of ice — and possibly complex forms of life. New technologies that could help explore its ocean will be put to the test during the robot's descent.

Software written by Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute will allow the untethered sub to navigate in the sometimes closely confined underwater spaces and probe the pitch-black sinkhole with 56 sonar sensors for mapping.

You can follow the progress of the robot's exploration of the sinkhole via this website.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Go Ahead, Change My Nappy

Too Young To Walk, But Old Enough To Carry A Firearm

Don't know where Wonkette got this photo, but it's a chiller

How young is too young for an American to be issued with a gun ownership ID card, so they can legally carry a firearm?

Is ten months old too young?

From Fox News :

In Illinois, you're never too young to own a gun.

That's what one father found out, when he registered his 10-month-old son for a Firearm Owner's Identification Card.

Daily Southtown columnist Howard Ludwig registered his son —- Howard David Ludwig, nicknamed "Bubba" — online after the child's grandfather bought him a gun shortly after the baby's birth.

The ID card, complete with a photo of the tot, allows the child to own a firearm and ammunition, and legally transport an unloaded weapon, even though Bubba has yet to learn how to walk.

“Not only did I have his birthday on there, it had a picture of him giving a toothless grin," Ludwig said. "It asked for his weight, which I listed at 20 pounds, and his height, which is 2 feet, 3 inches.”

Officials say that while it's rare to issue a FOID card to minors, it's not illegal.

"There is nothing in the FOID Act or any of the rules that says anything about age restrictions," Lt. Scott Compton, of the Illinois State Police, told the elder Ludwig.

Friday, May 11, 2007

It's A Computer, And It's 2000 Years Old

A truly mindblowing story from the New Yorker unveils some of the secrets of the world's most ancient computer. A short summary intro :
A hundred years ago, sponge divers off the coast of Greece found, amidst the wreckage of an ancient ship, "a shoebox-size lump of bronze, which appeared to have a wooden exterior. Inside... [was] what looked like a bronze dial. Researchers also noticed precisely cut triangular gear teeth of different sizes. The thing looked like some sort of mechanical clock. But this was impossible, because scientifically precise gearing wasn't believed to have been widely used until the fourteenth century — fourteen hundred years after the ship went down."
Investigators in the first years of 1900 couldn't work out what it was. The best theory settled on was that it was some sort of astrolab, known to have existed in the 8th century because Muslim explorers used it to position their ships by the stars and find latitude, as well as locating the direction of Mecca and working out prayer times.

Investigators theorised it was most likely to be an astrolab. They didn't think it could be a computer of some kind, because, weirdly enough, computers hadn't been invented in the early 1900s, so how could they recognise an ancient version of something that didn't exist?

It gets stranger still. But here's a few observations from the New Yorker piece worth quoting in full :
Looking back over the first fifty years of research on the Mechanism, one is struck by the reluctance of modern investigators to credit the ancients with technological skill. The Greeks are thought to have possessed crude wooden gears, which were used to lift heavy building materials, haul up water, and hoist anchors, but historians do not generally credit them with possessing scientifically precise gears—gears cut from metal and arranged into complex “gear trains” capable of carrying motion from one driveshaft to another. Paul Keyser, a software developer at I.B.M. and the author of “Greek Science of the Hellenistic Era,” told me recently, “Those scholars who study the history of science tend to focus on science beginning with Copernicus and Galileo and Harvey, and often go so far as to assert that no such thing existed before.” It’s almost as if we wished to reserve advanced technological accomplishment exclusively for ourselves. Our civilization, while too late to make the fundamental discoveries that the Greeks made in the sciences—Euclidean geometry, trigonometry, and the law of the lever, to name a few—has excelled at using those discoveries to make machines. These are the product and proof of our unique genius, and we’re reluctant to share our glory with previous civilizations.

In fact, there is evidence that earlier civilizations were much more technically adept than we imagine they were. As Peter James and Nick Thorpe point out in “Ancient Inventions,” published in 1994, some ancient civilizations were aware of natural electric phenomena and the invisible powers of magnetism (though neither concept was understood). The Greeks had a tradition of great inventors, beginning with Archimedes of Syracuse (c. 287-212 B.C.), who, in addition to his famous planetarium, is believed to have invented a terrible clawed device made up of large hooks, submerged in the sea, and attached by a cable to a terrestrial hoist; the device was capable of lifting the bow of a fully loaded warship into the air and smashing it down on the water—the Greeks reportedly used the weapon during the Roman siege of Syracuse around 212 B.C. Philon of Byzantium (who lived around 200 B.C.) made a spring-driven catapult. Heron of Alexandria (who lived around the first century A.D.) was the most ingenious inventor of all. He described the basic principles of steam power, and is said to have invented a steam-powered device in which escaping steam caused a sphere with two nozzles to rotate. He also made a mechanical slot machine, a water-powered organ, and machinery for temples and theatres, including automatic swinging doors. He is perhaps best remembered for his automatons—simulations of animals and men, cleverly engineered to sing, blow trumpets, and dance, among other lifelike actions.

Maybe we had to think of ancient people as less inventive and less technologically achieved than us, in our modern eras, so we could think of ourselves as so much smarter and far more advanced?

The conclusion of this excellent story should be read for yourself, here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cobra Vs Baby

It's supposedly a rite-of-passage, in India, for future snake charmers, a family tradition.

Or it is the most sickening spectator sport in the world.

The baby is barely 12 months old. The cobra has been de-fanged and its mouth sewn closed.

But here's the good news. Animal rights protesters have condemned the cruelty shown to the King Cobra.

I would advise against watching this video. It's beyond disturbing. The child tries to fight the snake off and the snake strikes at the baby again and again.

You will be haunted.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Man Cuts Off His Own Head With Chainsaw

The headline of the year is also a tragedy :

A man in the German city of Cologne fatally stabbed his elderly father before cutting off his own head with an electric chainsaw, police said today.

The headless body of the 24-year-old offender was found when police raced to an the apartment yesterday after an emergency call, apparently from the dying father, had been broken off in mid-sentence, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.

Alf Willwacher, a senior prosecutor, said an electric chainsaw was next to the son's body.

"We do not believe any third party was involved," he said.

Neighbours said the father and son had been reclusive since the death of the mother, allegedly by suicide, several years ago

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Spider That Eats Chickens...And Keeps A Frog As A Pet

Look at a dinner plate. Now imagine a spider that big. Now imagine a spider that big that stalks and eats chickens.

Now meet Martin Nichols. He's a spider expert, he traveled to South America's Amazon to hunt down the fabled 'chicken eating spider'. He found it, and he learned some extraodinary things :
"Seeing the big mama tarantula with the young was remarkable. Most tarantulas are in no way gregarious. In fact, they often cannibalize their own young. So seeing that was very unusual. But it may make sense. It looks like when they go out at night as a group, they can catch and kill larger prey by working together.

"We also discovered that those spiders appeared to be keeping a pet. There was a little frog that lived down in the hole with the spiders. It may offer some sort of service to spiders, like sweeping up ants that might bother the spiders."
A spider almost more than ten inches in diameter that eats chickens and keeps a frog as a pet.

Reality is always far more creative than fiction.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Six-Legged Calf Is Born

Two head pigs, five legged dogs, double faced kittens, three legged's been a busy past twelve months for animal mutations that result in otherwise healthy animals, and they continue to appear. A black Angus calf has been born with six legs, and it doesn't have too much trouble getting around :
"He's a real freak," said Brian Slocum, who said the calf was born Sunday to one of his cows. "I've never seen anything like this before."

The unnamed calf also has organs for both sexes and a surgically supplied rectum.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Not Disneyland

Yes, this building sure does look a lot like the Magic Kingdom castle at Disneyland. But it's not.

And yes, these two characters might look a lot like Donald Duck and Minnie Mouse, but they're not. Apparently, the 'thing' on the left is an "original character" and the one on the right is "a cat with big ears".

Welcome to the world's most bold and outlandish example of mass copyright and trademark violation and exploitation, disguised as a theme park.

Naturally, it's in "what does copyright mean?" China.

Presenting the Shijingshan Amusement Park. Here's some more info :

With its slogan “Disneyland is too far,” Beijing’s Shijingshan Amusement Park features a replica of Cinderella’s Castle, with staff dressed like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and other Disney characters.

None of this is authorized by Disney - but that has not stopped the state-owned park from creating its own counterfeit version of the Magic Kingdom in a brazen example of the sort of open and widespread copyright piracy that has Washington fuming.

That explanation for the Minnie Mouse rip-off, "It's a cat, with big ears" came from the president of the amusement park! Hilarious.

As a couple of commenters pointed out on this blog, how exactly are Disney lawyers going to sue the Chinese government for copyright and trademark violations, when most of the merchandise Disney flogs all over the world, for spectacular markups, are produced in factories owned by the Chinese government?

Good question.

Go here for a feast of photos that show characters who are not Shrek, not the Seven Dwarfs, not Snow White, not Winnie The Poo and not Tigger.

Not Snow White...
Jack Russell Dies Saving Kids From Pit Bulls

George, a real life Lassie

Get ready to cry. Here follows the tale of a real life Lassie :

New Zealand media report that George, a 9-year-old Jack Russell terrier, suffered fatal wounds while protecting five young children from two vicious pit bulls.

Richard Rosewarne, 11, tells his local paper that the pit bulls came up behind them and were going for his 4-year-old brother, Darryl Wilson, when tiny George jumped between them.

"These two pit bulls rushed up and were going for the little boy. George went for them, it's what he would do. He didn't stand a chance, but I reckon he saved that boy from being chewed up," owner Alan Gay, 69, tells the Taranaki Daily News. "

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Saving Bigfoot From Extinction

Bigfoot should be classed as an "endangered species", claims a Canadian MP.

From AFP :

So says Canadian MP Mike Lake who has called for Bigfoot to be protected under Canada's species at risk act, alongside Whooping Cranes, Blue Whales, and Red Mulberry trees.

"The debate over their (Bigfoot's) existence is moot in the circumstance of their tenuous hold on merely existing," reads a petition presented by Lake to parliament in March and due to be discussed next week.

"Therefore, the petitioners request the House of Commons to establish immediate, comprehensive legislation to affect immediate protection of Bigfoot," says the petition signed by almost 500 of Lake's constituents in Edmonton, Alberta.

A similar appeal has been made to the US Congress.

Down through history, there have been numerous, if unsubstantiated sightings of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch in North American folklore.

The beast is said to inhabit remote forests, mainly in the US Pacific northwest and western Canada, and many believe it could be related to the equally mythical Yeti said to have found its home in Tibet and Nepal.

While sometimes described as large, hairy bipedal hominoids, Bigfoot are considered by most experts to be a combination of folklore and hoaxes.